Here's the details directly from the press release that we have received...
Fairlight has donated a vintage CMI (Computer Music Instrument) keyboard and arranged to have all 43 keys plus the chassis autographed by the artists that made the instrument the most important development in music in the Eighties. The signatory artists, who used the CMI to radically change the music of the day, include Lindsey Buckingham, Nick Rhodes, Stuart Copeland, Elvis Costello, Mike Oldfield, Hans Zimmer, Roland Orzabal, Barry Gibb, Steve Winwood, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson, JJ Jeczalik, Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Boris Blank, Midge Ure, Alan Parsons, Geoff Downes, Brian Wilson, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Sir George Martin, John Paul Jones, Trevor Horn, Jim Kerr, Brian Eno, Jean Michel Jarre, Howard Jones, Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby, Keith Emerson, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bono, Jan Hammer, Todd Rundgren, Stevie Wonder, Iva Davies, David Hirschfelder, Chick Corea, Daryl Hall, Mike Rutherford, Billy Gibbons, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie.
Iconic hits such as â€œSledgehammerâ€� by Peter Gabriel; â€œThrillerâ€� by Michael Jackson; â€œRocketâ€� by Herbie Hancock and â€œThe Unforgettable Fireâ€� by U2 are classic examples of the Fairlight CMI as it was used within the 80â€™s genre. Among the first commercially-available albums to incorporate it were Kate Bush's â€œNever for Everâ€� (1980), Stevie Wonderâ€™s â€œHappy Birthdayâ€� (1980), Jean-Michel Jarre's Magnetic Fields (1981), and the Buggles' last album, â€œAdventures in Modern Recording.â€� Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" and its parent album Security (1982) also feature the instrument.
The Fairlight CMI was the worldâ€™s first digital sampler and featured other radical advances for the time, including a light pen interface and menu-driven GUI. One of the CMIâ€™s most significant software features was the so-called "Page R,â€� which was the worldâ€™s first real time graphical music sequence editor, widely copied on other software synths ever since. The instrument was featured extensively in the futuristic videos of those who used it dominating the 80â€™s music scene and, being the first device to cross the computer/instrument divide, was the subject of passionate debate within the artist community â€” Phil Collins, a CMI detractor, went so far as to advertise â€œNo Fairlight Usedâ€� in the liner notes of his 1985 album â€œNo Jacket Required!â€� A Fairlight CMI can be seen in the Devo film â€œWe Are Devoâ€� and in Jan Hammer's music video for the Miami Vice theme song. It also makes an appearance being operated by Nick Rhodes in Duran Duran's video for "The Reflex".
The CMI hit the height of its popular frenzy among the artist community when it was featured in a now-legendary performance by Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby and Howard Jones at the 1985 Grammy Awards. Ironically, the Grammy Album Of The Year in 1985 was â€œNo Jacket Required.â€�
Though still selling to the music community elite, the cost of manufacturing forced Fairlight to discontinue the CMI in the late Eighties, as it migrated its business to building digital audio workstations and mixing consoles for the Hollywood film production business, the television broadcast market and the higher-end of music recording where the â€œFairlight Soundâ€� is still highly prized.
On December 11, WITNESSâ€™ annual benefit will be hosted by the organizationâ€™s founder and chairman, Peter Gabriel, and actor Gael Garcia Bernal. The event will include performances by Paul Simon, AngÃ©lique Kidjo and Kate Pierson & Fred Schneider of the B-52's.
Commenting on the auction, Fairlight Chief Executive John Lancken said today, â€œBringing together the artists and the instrument that turned music on its head back in the Eighties is a fascinating exercise in the history of music, but to do it with WITNESS to support peace and human rights around the world is especially gratifying. We believe that this project, the culmination of two years of hard work, is only the beginning of a long and productive relationship between Fairlight and WITNESS as we bring to bear our digital media expertise and our user base of studios and broadcasters around the globe to help advance the great cause that WITNESS fights every day.â€�
Echoing this sentiment, Gillian Caldwell, Director of WITNESS, said today â€œThe Eighties is remembered for among other things the unique music of the time, much of which was created on the Fairlight CMI. Today, WITNESS seeks to ensure the current decade is not remembered as a time that the world turned a blind eye to human rights abuses across the globe. To open up the eyes of the world to these abuses, WITNESS relies on sound and video technologies, which is why it is especially exciting to see a professional audio company like Fairlight support our cause.â€�
The December 11 auction marks the end of a two-year program embarked on by Fairlight, WITNESS and New York City public relations agency Griffin Public Relations & Marketing to reach out to the artists who had used the keyboard. Working with artists, agents and managers, the group pitched participation, sought an agreement to autograph and then issued the keys individually to artists around the world. The autographed keys were each returned to Fairlight in Sydney and the keyboard was recently reassembled and shipped to New York, where it will go on display at a VIP reception before the auction.
A search for Fairlight on Ebay will find the auction.
Check out the vids...
There are a number of classic CMI Moments online at the following URLs:
Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Thomas Dolby and Howard Jones play the 1985 Grammyâ€™s:
Herbie Hancock demonstrates the Fairlight on Sesame Street
Todd Rundgren on Entertainment TonightMore From: FAIRLIGHT